I am always amazed at the media and the City of London’s love affair with The Great Bearded Self Publicist.
Here is someone who has made a living from a personal publicity campaign in which everything he touches turns to gold. He is something of a modern Midas; if only in his own mind.
There are reports that some of his staff at Virgin Atlantic (49% owned by Singapore Airlines) are planning to strike because of poor pay. You would expect The (self proclaimed) People’s Champion to be up in arms that his staff would be treated in such a way. After all he likes to portray Virgin Group as being one happy family under the kind leadership of the Pater Familias – him.
However his response has been that any unhappy workers should resign from the company.
Virgin Atlantic are actually one of the lowest paying airlines for cabin staff. Yet instead of raising their pay he wants them to resign instead. He does not see it as basic right for workers to be paid a fair and competitive wage. Then again he has right to be worried. You see he is hiding a very big secret.
Virgin Atlantic is one of the few profitable companies in his empire. The profits generated are used to prop up those other poorly performing areas of the group that would otherwise drag it down. Remember Virgin Brides or Vigin Cola?
Now I’m not against Beardo as a person. He has done some things very successfully but he’s also keen on making misleading claims about his successes that everyone seems to follow.
His vision of things such as Virgin trains do not bear any real scrutinisation. This is definitely not the success he has claimed and, within the rail industry, this is no secret. He is happy to charge higher and higher fares for a poor service while, at the same time, taking more and more government subsidy for providing such a poor service. Let us not forget that this company is 49% owned by Stagecoach.
Then we have Virgin Money.
Would we really want to let Northern Rock be managed by a company that has no real banking experience? Remember that this is a bank that is only in business because we (the UK taxpayer) is assuming the risk on all its debts – past or future. Yet his announcement that he will save the bank has hardly been challenged by anyone.
One day the house of cards will collapse and there will be many people who will lose out. I hope it nevers happens but fear it will. Will he go the way of other media and city favourites – Worldcom, Enron, Maxwell or Black?